The U.S. didn’t ban the lead additive in paint until 1978, so any building with indoor or outdoor painting from 1978 or earlier is likely rife with lead. That’s a problem because lead is a highly toxic metal that causes nervous system damage, kidney damage, and poses other long-term health risks, especially in children. Therefore, lead paint should always be maintained or removed properly.

In this post, we describe how to identify potential areas of lead paint in and around your building and the proper ways to maintain or remove them.

Identifying Lead Danger Areas Inside and Outside

Inside buildings, it’s typical to find the highest concentrations of lead paint in the older, oil-based paints that were used on windowsills, door trims, radiators, windowpanes, and other similar fixtures. Outside, lead is often found on doors, door trims, windows, railings, and fixed playground structures.

Surprising to most people is the fact that the soil surrounding a building can also contain lead; lead in the soil exists from the building’s original construction or renovations/re-paintings due to paint chips coming in contact with the ground or being covered by soil and leaking lead particulates.

Given the wide array of possible lead contamination areas, you should know how to identify potential lead hazards, especially when the chipping or cracking occurs at just the right height to be accessible by children. This is critical because lead paint has a sweet taste.

Inspect for the Visible and Invisible Lead Threats

Other dangers arise from the less obvious ways lead lurks around a building. To recognize these, you need to understand that lead paint hazards also occur when abrasion causes dust generation – that is, when the periodic or continuous rubbing of lead-painted surfaces results in lead escaping in the form of dust.

For example, lead dust builds up from the simple, everyday activities of opening and closing windows and doors or pulling out drawers and pushing them back into place. Over time, friction brings about this nearly invisible threat.

To ensure proper identification of lead dangers, you need to perform a lead-based paint inspection. This does not mean purchasing a lead paint kit at your local hardware store. Instead, to perform a thorough evaluation of your building and yard, you should obtain a multi-point inspection that, at a minimum, includes the following:

  • Inspection for chalking, chipping, flaking, and peeling on all painted surfaces
  • Analysis via x-ray fluorescence to determine the exact location and quantity of lead paint
  • Collection of lead paint samples (flakes, chips, or dust)
  • Wiping of surfaces (especially outdoors) for the existence of lead dust
  • Testing of all paint samples at an accredited testing facility

Consider a Professional Lead Paint Evaluation

Given the health risks associated with lead paint, it’s critical that you properly identify the hazards in and around your building. When you do locate lead paint, you’ll need to deal with it properly – which is not, as many people do, scraping, cutting, and sanding it off to get rid of it quickly. Recognize that the principal danger comes directly from those actions, as scraping, cutting, and sanding turns the lead into dust you can breathe in.

Your safest approach is to hire a professional with experience in identifying and remediating lead paint hazards. A professional lead paint inspector who’s been trained in accordance with the federal government standard for lead-based poisoning prevention – 40 CFR 745 – offers a guaranteed level of knowledge, saves you time and effort, and avoids the easy-to-make mistakes of DIY first-timers.

To learn more, contact our environmental safety professionals today.